An introduction to custom shipping methods in Auctiva Commerce
Auctiva Commerce offers a lot of shipping features to make sure you serve your customers the best you can. A custom shipping method uses logic to make sure your store gives customers the appropriate shipping rates. You can customize shipping methods by creating warehouses, shipping zones and assigning certain groups of customers to specific shipping methods.
What is a custom shipping method?
A custom shipping method is a specific way of shipping orders that is configured by you to accurately create shipping charger per order. You can establish many different shipping methods for your Auctiva Commerce store that the customer can choose from when they reach checkout. Custom shipping methods use logic to provide only the appropriate shipping options to the customer by assessing the customer's shipping address and the products in the customer's cart. In this way, the proper shipping methods will always be available to your customers and shipments can be made in a timely fashion. Additionally, you can decide if they'll charge handling fees, require a minimum purchase or include a tax within the shipping method. They can also decide if they'll give their customers fixed rates or varied prices based on weight, cost or quantity.
Custom shipping methods are different from shipping methods with integrated carriers in that the custom method doesn't rely on an integrated carrier to provide the shipping charges.
Getting started with the parameters
The shipping methods within Auctiva Commerce come with a great deal of parameters. Before you add a new shipping method, it's a good idea to setup all these options. That means you should know about adding shipping zones, warehouses, user groups and tax codes. Here's a brief description of each of these parameters:
- Shipping zone: A shipping zone is a defined geographical area that's deliverable by the shipping method. A common example of a shipping zone is the contiguous U.S., which includes every state, except for Hawaii and Alaska. This zone, because of the vast shipping network provided by major U.S. carriers, usually falls into a standard pricing model. However, outside of this geographical region (e.g., Hawaii), the shipping fees will change. By establishing shipping zones for your Auctiva Commerce store, you will be able to flexibly charge your customers the appropriate shipping costs depending on their shipping address. To learn more about setting up your Auctiva Commerce store's shipping zones, read the "How to add a Shipping Zone" tutorial.
- Warehouse: In its simplest form, a warehouse is just a group of products. It also represents the address from where your shipments start. You must have at least one warehouse on you Auctiva Commerce store. You can create more warehouses if certain products ship from different locations (e.g., a drop shipper or vendor) or if you want to separate products from your typical warehouse to apply special shipping rules. For example, you could have a set of products that, because of their weight or size, have to be shipped in a completely different way. If you create a new warehouse, you can group these similar products together and specifically create a new shipping method for this warehouse. So, no matter where you're shipping from, or what unique products you're shipping, you can give your customers the most accurate shipping costs and delivery times. To learn how to create new warehouses, read the "How to add a Warehouse" tutorial.
- User groups: You can assign user groups to a specific method of shipping. In this way you can offer discounts or other bargains to a certain group of customers, for example, frequent buyers. When you assign these types of bargains to shipping methods, those methods will only appear to customers who belong to these groups. To learn more about user groups, see the "Introduction to Users and User Groups" tutorial.
- Tax code: A tax code is a set of rules that will assess an additional charge to a customer's purchase if applicable. A tax code can also be assigned to a shipping method so that just the shipping charges are taxed. To learn more about tax codes, see the "How to add a tax code" tutorial.
That covers the shipping parameters that are central to adding a custom shipping method. You can always make changes to these parameters and the shipping methods as necessary.
Custom shipping method types
Auctiva commerce can calculate a shipping charge automatically using logic that you can configure per shipping method. These are the options for calculating the ship rate:
- Fixed rate: Use this tutorial to create a flat shipping charge for a particular method of shipping.
- Variable rate by weight: Use this tutorial to create a variable rate according to a shipment weight.
- Variable rate by cost: Use this tutorial to create a variable rate according to the cost of a customer's purchase.
- Variable rate by quantity: Use this tutorial to create a variable rate according to the quantity of products to be shipped.
Tips on Shipping to Ensure Good Transactions
- Keep your customers updated on the status of their orders. You can do this by using Auctiva Commerce's automated e-mails to let them know when the products they've ordered have been shipped. See the default Email Templates at Admin> Email> Templates.
- Send customers tracking numbers for their orders so they can be reassured they'll get items in a timely manner and you can focus on other orders.
- Ship goods promptly. Most customers expect shipments to be made as early as the same day and no later than the day after payment.
- Use the free shipping supplies that carriers, such as the USPS and FedEx, offer. This can help you cut cost, and the supplies they offer are intended to withstand the wear and tear of common shipping environments.
- Give customers realistic shipping times. Don't give them a "best case" scenario and explain any possible delays.
- Check in with customers to make sure they get their items.
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